There is no short cut to success but once attained nothing succeeds it.
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): Please tell us about your academic background and achievements in detail?
Quratulain Malik: I belong to and was born in Lahore, but got my early school education from various schools of Punjab owing to my father’s frequent postings in various cities, however, did my matriculation from The Punjab School Town Ship, Lahore and then FSc from Govt. college for women, Gulberg Lahore, where my mother was also serving as Assistant professor. Later, I got admission in Punjab University and earned my degree in Pharm-D. I’m also enrolled in LL.B (part 111), and have already got a diploma in International Affairs from the same university. I am a regular writer on social issues in a local daily. I also have compiled a book on Everyday Science for CSS aspirants .
I appeared in CSS examination 2009 and was able to get 76th position in Pakistan in my first attempt and was allocated in Inland Revenue Service, FBR. I completed my common training (38th Common) in Civil services Academy, Walton, Lahore and later my specialized training at Directorate General of training and research, Lahore. I am working as Assistant Commissioner Inland Revenue, Lahore.
JWT: You have also qualified CSS 2010 and now allocated in DMG. What are the reasons behind changing the occupational group? How would you compare both the services?
QM: Inland Revenue Service(IRS), owing to its magnitude and substantial role in collecting revenue for the country, is one of the best services in Pakistan, and I consider myself lucky enough for having served in it, but I believe that as per my personality traits, aptitude and interests, services related to management and having versatility in their nature of job, are more suitable for a person like me. Moreover, IRS is more of a technical than a creative and versatile service, whereas, my preference has always been to serve in multifunctional and multidimensional fields as in education, health, planning divisions etc so as to make an apt use of my abilities and skills.
JWT: Do you think that the experience you have gained in IRS would be of any help to you in future?
QM: Undoubtedly yes. My field experience helped me a lot in gaining practical knowledge of official work. The practical experience provides us an opportunity to master the theoretical knowledge gained during the training at academy. Since I have been working in the enforcement division, which in itself, being target-oriented, is a learning experience, so I learned well the management of office, files and assigning of related tasks to the subordinates. I hope that this exposure will be beneficial to me in my future assignments as well.
JWT: What are the prerequisites for success in CSS exam?
QM: To me it is the firm commitment, persistent hard work and consistent dedication to study. Higher the level of commitment, higher is the ratio of success. One must be clear in making up the decision and study wholeheartedly without bearing any ‘ifs and buts’ in mind. Once the decision is made, cling to it steadfastly, devote yourself to the studies, consult standard books written by the renowned authors, analysts and historians, seek guidance of competent teachers both for the compulsory and optional subjects and above all have faith in Allah and in your abilities. CSS exam is just like other exams that are conducted in Pakistan at various levels. It is neither super difficult nor impossible to qualify. But it does definitely test one’s will power, levels of endurance, commitment and tireless efforts.
JWT: What are the techniques to qualify English essay and precis’ and composition? How did you manage to get 68/100 marks in English essay?
QM: English undoubtedly is one amongst the most challenging subjects in CSS, as most candidates fail in English alone. However, it is pertinent to mention here that simple and easy, yet correct and clear English is required in CSS in terms of grammar, composition, expression, vocabulary and spellings. There exists a general concept among the candidates that they have to be affluent in flowery and verbose language so as to impress the examiner, which definitely not is the case and I would rather call it a misconception.
As the second part of your question is concerned, I followed a clear strategy recommended by my teacher of English Prof. Agha Mohsin as:-
To make a detailed yet comprehensive outline of the essay encompassing all aspects of the topic from all dimensions and angles.
Start the essay with an opening sentence that must be an explanation or endorsement of the topic of the essay followed by an impressive introductory paragraph that must conclude with a thesis statement.
Divide the essay into small paragraphs of about 8 to 10 lines each.
Use highlighters/ pointers or markers to brighten the important lines, words and quotations and always mention the source of quotation.
Each paragraph must be on a new point/ topic and must be connected with the next paragraph through the last line so as to maintain the continuity of thoughts and sequence.
At the end give a concluding paragraph, summing up the entire essay with some thought provoking sentences or quotations.
Always mention the word count at the end.
JWT: How much time is required for the CSS preparation?
QM: It varies from individual to individual and cannot be generalized. The retention ability varies from person to person. However, a regular and consistent effort is the acid test. One has to allocate maximum part of his time to the studies on daily basis without pauses and breaks making study as the priority no.1. On the whole 8 to 12 hours daily study can be considered as an ideal routine for the preparation.
JWT: Any message:
QM: Always believe in Allah and in your abilities. Stay cool yet steadfast. Be clear towards your goals and make every possible effort to make the dreams come true. There is no short cut to success but once attained nothing succeeds it. Nature has pledged to help those who strive, work and sacrifice. Be humble and grateful as after all, all the blessings are from HIM alone.